One can dig deep into the dirt and still continue to find gold. For me, I found gold right in front of my face when I got to witness the push and pull of the internal and external struggles of State Faults. Straight from Santa Rosa, CA, State Faults is a best-friend trio that demonstrates the ability to achieve success through honest work ethic. Their development is a clear example of true DIY artist that are inspirations as much as innovators. After four years of radio silence, the NorCal trio returns with a new album entitled Clairvoyant. As the album etherealizes destruction and reparation, the dichotomy between frustrated hope and passionate doubt is translated through the speakers. Clairvoyant is an imaginative agglomeration of one’s inner chaos meeting personal beauty. State Faults continues to be a genre-bending band that creates their own unique sound. Each track speaks for itself and cannot be boxed in by traditional terms like “screamo,” “post-rock”, or “punk.” It is up to you to decide where it belongs.
I recently had the privilege of sitting with them and discussing their motivation to start the band back up. I inquired about their personal philosophies on the punk scene, and listened to their feelings on alienation. Jonny, Jared, and Michael were very candid about their positions and demonstrated the depth of true DIY culture and how it can influence the artist at work. Here’s what they said:
What inspired State Faults to return?
Jonny – We went on Hiatus in 2015, but before we stopped, we had written six or seven songs. We just decided to record them.
Jared – Then we started Slow Bloom and that was going good for a while, but then it started to feel a little bit different, and we began experiencing creative differences. Then we read an article that Vice, Nosiey had published and they had mentioned State Faults and it inspired us. Plus, we remembered that we had all these songs.
Jonny – It planted the seed.
Michael – On top of that, we also wanted to test the waters because we were sitting on a bunch of merch. So, we decided to sell it and a lot of people bought shirts. All that went hella quick.
You guys didn’t promote the idea of selling merchandise beforehand?
Michael – No not at all. We just forgot about it because we were doing Slow Bloom. It was just all this left-over merch from last time. We just decided to sell it to see if we can make some money.
Jared – Then we sold the test presses, and those sold within a day
Michael – There was a bunch of little signs that were inspiring us to revisit the band.
Jared – So after all that, we decided to finish the record. But once we started dropping hints that we were recording new music, Dogknights Records hit us up. They had helped us put out the Slow Bloom record and they wanted to be a part of the new one. Also, Darren and his buddy Ivan, who actually came out to a Brother Bear show (the name of the band before State Faults), hit us up and proposed European tour and offered to set it up. Yeah, things we’re just falling into place, which was weird because we had been gone for four years. My feeling was that we ended the band too early and missed all these opportunities and if we were to come back, we would just have so much ground to cover and it’d be like starting over. I said, that if we’re going to put out this record, let’s just play a small weekend tour and it will just be what it is and that will be it. But once we were selling all this merch, lining up Europe tour, and people were getting excited about the new songs, we just went with it.
Jonny – Yeah, we sold like 1000 bucks on discounted merch in one day.
Jared – So, it literally feels like we’re picking up where we left off. When we first ended State Faults, we said that we were never going to get where we wanted to be and it felt pointless. We were dragging ourselves to that next level, and now that we’re back, we feel like we’re able to get to that next level.
Backtrack a bit, you said it felt like the end. Did you really think it was at the time? Did you really let it go?
Jared – I felt that if we would have kept going, we would have been at each other’s throats. We almost completely broke up.
Michael – Our old bass player Chip quit, and Chris from No Sleep wanted another record. We all just felt too stressed out. There was all this pressure.
Jared – We all still wanted to play music together, but we didn’t want to have consistent fights, so we decided to stop worrying about State Faults and tried writing music that came naturally. We decided not worry about writing a song that would sound like a State Fault song, which led to birth of Slow Bloom.
Michael – We just didn’t want to worry about anything. We didn’t have to worry about writing for the album and feel the pressure of making a State Faults song.
Jonny – We also just wanted to do something different. We had been making “screamoy” stuff for over four years, but we wanted something different. I wanted to make some choruses and sing some songs.
Michael – We also got to play with Timmy (guitarist for Slow Bloom), who is an incredible person.
Does the State Faults feel brand new?
Jonny – It definitely felt renewed. Felt like starting over again, but with more success.
Jared – We have more wisdom. I feel smarter. I feel more prepared to go into the next place. We were in a place that we didn’t know where to go and we didn’t know why things were happening or how we wanted them to happen. We were getting frustrated at the process and with each other. I just didn’t know what to do with it anymore and it wasn’t fun.
Jonny – And we were letting fear get the best of us. When we were schedule to do a full US tour with this other band and play Fest in Florida, we were nervous cause the last US tour left us in major debt.
Jared – We were also super broke. Now, we’re a little bit more established and approaching it more strategically. I don’t know but being away for a while was good and it worked.
Do you feel indifferent in your scene? Knowing you guys personally, I do feel like you have a punk background with a screamo/post-rocky vibe. Is it difficult to be a part of the San Francisco scene because it can have a lot of cliques?
Michael – Yeah, I think that’s a part of the problem. It so different.
Jonny – The thing is there isn’t many screamo or post rock shows in SF. It’s either Punk or Emo.
Does the Punk scene feel indifferent about Screamo shows?
Jonny – Oh yea, they’re like “too cool” for screamo.
Jared – We’re also in a big town that feels small and everyone wants to do bigger things. Everything kind of goes in seasons, so you’ll get a group of kids that all went to school together and are building something up. Then one or two of the bands that they have started begins to takes off and then they’ll go on tour. This will lead them to not want to play locally or come back because they can do bigger and better things. Then that season will come to an end and a new one will come up. Some are longer, and some are shorter.
Jonny – For State Faults, we were a band that helped resurrect the scene when it had come down. Us and some other bands were staying afloat and helping the scene.
Jared – I think a part of the problem is that a lot of the bands that start the scenes and communities eventually leave. I have a lot of social anxiety, so I didn’t go to a lot of shows and I had terrible time connecting with other bands. Also, for a while we felt isolated. We just felt that we didn’t fit in with the other bands and not saying that they did anything, it was just us. We didn’t feel like we fit in with the punk crowd. Another thing was that I felt intimated by some of the bigger bands because I didn’t know if they knew who we are or if they cared. But that was just my natural feeling.
Do you like feeling different?
Jared – I feel fortunate about it. It felt isolating when we were in it and feeling like we were the only band doing what we were doing. Maybe it’s my own anxiety, but I did feel a bit excluded and weird. However, I did feel very passionate about the music that we were playing. There was a lot of inspiring bands that we were listening to that made us realize that this is the music we had to make. It was a blessing in disguise. It made us work even harder, but it felt like a big struggle. Looking back, that’s what helped us create our own unique thing without having the pressure to sound like other bands and we realized that we just put in so much fucking work while not knowing what the fuck we were doing.
Is the momentum better now than before?
Jonny – Dude, I feel like there’s more momentum now.
Jared – When we were coming up, a lot of kids were listening to us when they were in High school. Now, some of those kids are in big bands, and they’re still fans of us.
Jonny – This time just feels so good. I heard about people ride sharing to our Lancaster, and that never happened before.
This one usually makes people feel uncomfortable; do you feel punk?
Jonny – Hell yeah. We played a show last night where there was Gunshots.
Michael – It just depends. Like comparing yourself to your parents or your co-workers, and I’m not saying that I’m some “cool guy,” I just think that we live an alternative lifestyle with like-minded people that have like-minded thinking.
Jared – punk is a state of mind.
The reason I ask is because the scene itself is anomaly and it ironically make bands feel excluded. Since you’re a band that morphs different genres, I can see the essence of not belonging. How do you feel about that?
Jared – I don’t think that some people have a grasp on their insecurities. Everyone is more insecure than everyone wants to let on. It’s ironic, because everyone wants to be included and when you find security in any form, they eventually create an exclusive club. When you find acceptance in a group, it’s very easy to be afraid of either losing or protecting that idea, which can make a person act with “exclusive” qualities. No one talks about this anymore. Everyone is afraid and hyper vigilant about protecting people, especially marginalized groups, which is great, but we have marginalized ourselves into micro groups that it no longer feels connected.
Jonny – Some people will join a group and become “cool” and they can’t hang out with certain people that are “not cool.” Punk music should be inclusive to everyone and should have less gate-keeping.
Jared – The problem is that if you’re not willing to accept that some people might not understand your lifestyle choices or your identity, there won’t be change. People have to be willing to accept that change doesn’t happen over-night. We all have to be a part of that progression, so if you want people to come around with new ideas, make them feel welcome. Say, “Hey, look, we’re different, but if you’re willing to learn, we’re willing to teach you,” versus telling them to fuck off and telling people to do the research on their own and make them feel excluded. Why would they have any incentive to want to be a part of your group or understand your community if they get treated bad. I feel bad saying this because I get the feeling of being safe.
Jonny – And gate-keeping. I get that people want to feel safe.
Jared – We’re in a transitional phase and we’re reshaping society and it feels very volatile, but the poles are shifting. Once it stabilizes, people will reconnect and everyone will recognize that we were getting mad over petty shit. We need an economy of ideas.
Jonny – I was just thinking that because if you’re gatekeeping, it’s just an echo-chamber of just agreeing with each other and regurgitate information back to one another.
Jared – It’s like working out. You need resistance and you need to be able to challenge your ideas against other ideas. How are we ever going to know if your ideas hold up if you never challenge them or if you never talk to someone who feels differently than you and engage in conversation, so you can get the best version of their argument.
Jonny – Which is also a scary thing. I get why there’s a hesitation to do that because often times marginalized groups put themselves out there, which can be dangerous. But the punk scene, in particular, should be a safe place for everyone. That’s why gatekeeping is counterintuitive.
The gatekeeping is also genre-centric, which excludes bands from one another and pigeon-holds sound to a particular paradigm. It often leads to leaving other bands isolated. What do you think?
Jonny – Yeah, I totally get that; I don’t even like calling State Faults “screamo” because I don’t feel like a screamo band.
Jared – I call ourselves “spiritual hardcore.”
How do you view the social-hierarchy in music? I say this because there’s so many different types of social statuses within that sphere. Plus, I see it at shows.
Jonny – It’s everywhere. Simply there’s a hierarchy of the scene. Which bands are cool and which are not? If certain bands are not at certain shows, people don’t go. It’s weird cause you can tell when people are just posing and trying to “be cool” instead of going to a show and just enjoying the music.
Jared – I think it comes down to people’s fear. I know how I feel when I go to shows and I have a hard time because I’m just starting to realize the areas of my mental health that I wasn’t paying attention to. It like not knowing a different way to live, and it’s been happening since I was a kid. But realizing that we all have a hard time connecting and all have a lot of work to do on, will get us to understand the situation and feel bad about it. Everyone feels the anxiety, but the more we can communicate and understand the better it will be. Just reminding people that my scene is your scene and trying open up a dialogue where people can feel chill.
Jonny – I think that artists should remember and acknowledge to help other artists.
Its’ really cool to see the young and older part of you guys. Now, what’s next?
All: Europe. Playing Fest in November. Tour a hell of a lot more, and keep it going.